Emerging TechnologyMobileWhy Post-PC Doesn’t Mean Mobile

Why Post-PC Doesn't Mean Mobile

Eight ways post-PC affects marketing and how to integrate unique smartphone and tablet executions into your campaign.

Steve Jobs coined the term “post-PC” in reference to a new era of computing that takes the PC off its pedestal and makes it just another computing device, putting it on equal footing with smartphones, tablets, e-book readers, gaming consoles, and interactive TVs. Over the next year, marketers looking to get ahead of the curve will need to explore new ways to integrate unique smartphone and tablet executions into their campaigns. Courtesy of my company’s Trends team, let’s take a deeper look at how post-PC affects marketing.

A Guide to Post-PC Marketing

  1. Tablets aren’t mobile. If tablets are part of your “mobile” strategy, think again about where they are used. Seventy-six percent of respondents indicated that their tablet use takes place in the home rather than on-the-go. Marketers should take note. Tablets are portable, like a laptop, but not truly mobile. From this perspective, “post-PC” isn’t just another buzzword for “mobile,” but a term that covers everything from mobile to home computing. Marketers will need to think of tablets as living room devices and develop strategies in kind, such using apps that can sync to TV shows or focusing dayparts for tablet advertising on the times when people are home.
  2. Leapfrogging to post-PC lifestyles. Seventy-five percent of our panel indicated that they believed they could accomplish most of their computing needs via their smartphones and tablets, indicating comfort with sacrificing laptops’ and desktops’ computing power for portability and experience. A recent Pew Internet survey showed that 25 percent of smartphone owners are using these devices as their primary Internet connection. Future consumers’ first exposures to brands’ digital presence will be through these devices, so companies will need to think about how to develop useful native apps, web apps, and tablet- and smartphone-optimized websites.
  3. Marketers should try harder. Sixty-two percent indicated that they enjoy viewing advertisements on tablets and smartphones. However, the idea that 38 percent may find them uninteresting presents an opportunity for marketers to create more enjoyable branded experiences on these devices. Branded content such as videos, games, and music can be ways to deliver more engaging campaigns. Instead of simply creating a mobile version of a website, or buying a bunch of mobile banners, or churning out a half-hearted app, think about creating experiences that can only be experienced via these devices.
  4. Just throwing video everywhere won’t cut it. Video doesn’t quite have the power to entice post-PC consumers as marketers may think. Our panel was no more likely to engage with an ad just because it had a video to watch. Marketers need to think of what’s appropriate for these devices. Just because a smartphone can play a video, doesn’t mean your ad needs to include a video. Given the popularity of gaming on these devices, a more game-like experience is likely to result in people spending more time with the brand than they would watching a :30 spot.
  5. Hey publishers: they’d rather read on tablets. Print loses when it comes to these consumers. A year after the first iPad’s release, and 85 percent of respondents already prefer reading from these devices than from newspapers and magazines. In a world where e-books outsell physical copies on Amazon, paper may as well be the next vinyl. Though print content may change little from a print to digital copy, advertisers have an opportunity to add rich multimedia experiences to what would have typically been a static print advertisement.
  6. Locals preferred. GPS is available on most of these new devices, so marketers can customize content to a local area. Our survey found that 93 percent of people prefer receiving localized ads. Other studies find that people worry about sharing their location data over connected devices, but their preference for localized ads may be a signal that using location to deliver more relevant ads trumps privacy concerns in this area. Approaches may range from something as simple as customizing banner and audio ads based on Zip code or city to engaging in a campaign on mobile platforms like Foursquare, Facebook Places, or Instagram to engage with a local audience in a unique way.
  7. Cheaper hardware welcomed. Much of the post-PC future depends on the launch of new Internet-connected hardware ranging from tablets to smartphones to cars to e-readers. Given the popularity of Amazon’s ad-supported Kindle plus Special Offers, we asked our panel about their receptivity to ad-supported hardware, and 75 percent of the panel was receptive to the idea. Marketers will need to work with device makers to see if more opportunities within the ad-supported hardware space exist.
  8. Insert another cloud metaphor here. Post-PC consumers know what the cloud is, and most have used a cloud storage service. Exposure to cloud services is a natural part of post-PC computing, consumers can increasingly shift media consumption seamlessly from device to device. Advertisers will need to keep an eye on the growing audiences for entertainment services like Netflix and Hulu Plus to capture audiences that may be turning their primetime attention to these sources.


By looking at our respondents alongside industry forecasts for post-PC device adoption, it is plain to see that these devices resonate with consumers. Early adopters are already demonstrating that smartphones and tablets are reliable computing alternatives, which are gradually replacing laptops and PCs as media consumption devices. Advertisers will need to look for ways to tap into existing consumer behaviors to integrate these devices more appropriately into campaigns.

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